Guest Commentary: Latest Tragedy Confirms Texas is a Dumpster Fire When It Comes to Guns


By Steve Lee  |

The killing of nineteen 4th graders and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas this week was tragic by any definition. Totally innocent 10 year olds enjoying their last week of school before summer break, enjoying a Disney animation. Their lives violently ended by a deranged 18 year old armed with a semi-automatic military grade rifle. How does this happen?

Granted it could have happened anywhere in the U.S., but it happened in Texas, a state arguably with the most lax gun laws anywhere in the civilized world. Their governor’s response: “Uvalde was a senseless crime, but it could have been worse.”

Governor Greg Abbott went on to state the shooter had a “mental health challenge” and the state needed to “do a better job with mental health.” This is the same governor that in April slashed $211 million from the department that oversees mental health programs. 

So let’s review; the governor says mentally ill people mass kill people, not semi-automatic military grade firearms; Texas ranks 50th in the US in access to mental health care (according to the 2021 State of Mental Health in America Report) yet has the most lax gun laws in the United States.

In Abbott’s seven and a half years in office Texas has been the victim of six mass shootings, more than any other state.

In the words of Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn), “Spare me the bullshit about mental illness, we don’t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world.” Well stated.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s answer to mass school shootings is arming the teachers. He still sees no need for more stringent gun laws such as increased background checks, limiting purchase of assault weapons or high capacity magazines. I guess you never know when a battalion of armed Louisianans will invade your Texas property and try to kill you and your family.

In 2005, California, Texas and Florida, all had similarly high rates of gun violence. Since then California has enacted stricter gun laws while both Texas and Florida have chosen to loosen gun regulations. The result: California gun violence has decreased 10% while gun violence in Texas and Florida has increased 28% and 37%, respectively according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

A survey last year conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that 87% of Americans supported “preventing people with mental illness from purchasing guns” and 81% backed “making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks.” 64% of those polled favored “banning high-capacity ammunition magazines,” yet Texas and many other Republican states have failed to act on their voter’s wishes thanks to gun lobbyists and groups like the NRA who fund their Republican campaigns.

What adds insult to injury in this case was the Texas law enforcement’s refusal to take out this shooter immediately instead of waiting a full hour after the carnage began. The gunman spent 12 minutes outside the school shooting at a funeral home across the street before approaching the school. 12 MINUTES! Why did the school do nothing in those 12 minutes to protect those kids and their teachers?

Texas law enforcement, their legend of being bad-ass ass-kickers was shot to hell when they stood by outside working the bystander perimeter while the shooter shot over 100 rounds inside the school. Even when the Border Patrol and ICE agents arrived (12:03 pm according to latest timelines provided) with their shields and assault weapons arrived they were stopped by local law enforcement from engaging the shooter for another 50 MINUTES! Local law enforcement (think Andy and Barney in Podunk, Tx) stopped FEDERAL AGENTS from stopping the carnage for 50 minutes after they arrived!

This is the same local law enforcement that handcuffed a distraught mother of kids inside the school (who once uncuffed, broke through the police perimeter found her kids and saved them as police watched from a distance), pepper-sprayed one dad and tackled another dad from charging the school in attempt to save their kids.

This was a total dumpster fire of a response from Texas law enforcement as well as the Border Patrol and ICE units who stood down while shots continued to sound off inside the classroom according to witnesses. It’s also a dumpster fire of a legislative response by elected officials who think arming teachers is the solution, not tighter gun control laws.

May those kids and their teachers rest in peace and may their lives not be lost in vain.

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